Cinematic Releases: Independence Day

Today we celebrate our Independence Day.

Based on masterful marketing tactics, the talents of a formative sitcom star, and a basic premise, Independence Day hit theaters in July of 1996 with an explosive mix of comedy, adventure and sci-fi. 

After a 6 year run on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith's star power was ready to thrive while doing combat with an alien race hell bent on destroying every major city in the world. Not without a heavy cheese factor, Independence Day reshaped the summer blockbuster trend and  made it totally cool to blow up the White House.

"How many times do I have to tell you? You don't put your
kids in your movies? "

ID4 is a relatively corny action sci-fi flick that rests upon the blooming talent of Will Smith, a patriotic performance by Bill Pullman, and the ceaseless dry wit of Jeff Goldblum. The supporting cast is rounded out by a never ending pedigreed list of character actors including Robert Loggia, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, James Rebhorn, Brent Spiner, Adam Baldwin, and (of course) Randy Quaid as vengeful alien abductee, Russell Casse. The cast is great and they all graciously succeed in their respective roles. However, none of them could move past the clumsy script or weak science elements. 

At the time of release, the visuals were considered ground breaking. The film attempted to mix practical effects and computer generated imagery into one seamless presentation. In 1996, it looked great and people's minds were blown by how "amazing" the battle sequences were. In that aspect, this is one movie that does not stand the test of time. The alien invasion premise may be timeless, but the visuals do not hold up today in the least. Unlike Jurassic Park (1993), the special effects sequences look dated, poorly rendered, and truly horrendous compared to most other films of that era. If you don't believe me, re-watch the concluding scenes. 

"Man, did you have to make an After Earth joke? Really?"

ID4 blended elements of sci-fi, adventure, and comedy into a movie that raked in loads of cash over the 4th of July, 1996. As it stands, its not a genre bending masterpiece and its not a classic either. Its just a good time with some likable characters doing their darnedest to destroy a technologically superior alien military that really likes to use their big guns to blow things up. Weak in premise and visual design, ID4 deserves a bit of leeway for its deft use of Will Smith's charisma and Jeff Goldblum's undying affair with obsessive characters. 

It may not be a masterful film, but Independence Day changed the way blockbusters are marketed and it reinvigorated the summer season with its take no prisoners approach. ID4 is a love letter to B-movie alien invasion flicks blended with the disaster genre that would take over the late '90s. If you can set aside the glaring mistakes and plot holes, you just might enjoy this one.